Lymphedema is a chronic condition caused by damage to the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is part of the body’s circulatory system. It is responsible for transporting excess fluid, protein, and cell waste from the spaces between tissues back into general circulation where it will be metabolized or excreted. The lymph system is also an important component of the immune system which functions to defend the body from germs and foreign material. When the lymphatic system is not working properly lymph fluid will build up in the affected area, leading to swelling and hardening of the tissues. This condition is known as lymphedema. It is a chronic condition that will worsen if left untreated. A common complication of lymphedema is cellulitis, a bacterial infection that spreads through the skin and may be life-threatening.
There are several causes of lymphedema. One of the most common is related to complications from cancer treatment. Surgery often involves removal of lymph nodes and radiation can damage lymph vessels and create flow restrictions. Congestive heart failure and Obesity are other common causes of Lymphedema. Less common is Primary Lymphedema, an inherited disorder. Regardless of the cause, the treatment is aimed at decreasing the swelling and developing strategies to manage this lifelong condition. Our Therapists are certified in Complete Decongestive Therapy. This treatment involves manual lymphatic drainage, compression bandaging, exercise, and skin care. Once swelling has decreased, treatment involves fitting patients for custom compression garments to maintain the gains made in treatment. We are fortunate to have Physical and Occupational Therapists who are highly qualified in the treatment of Lymphedema